Feature Content, News, Secondary Care

Feature: Sussex ICS community diagnostic centres

As we’ve launched our new Integrated Care Systems (ICS) channel, we wanted to explore some practical digital solutions and programmes that are supporting new pathways and models of working, across a local healthcare system.

Here we focus on community diagnostic centres (CDCs), delving into what this model looks like and the opportunities it presents.

We speak with Mike Hayball, Chief Technology Officer at Feedback Medical, who shares with us a pilot programme with Sussex ICS. The programme uses the suppliers’ digital infrastructure, which includes Bleepa and CareLocker, to support the bespoke development needs of the ICS in relation to delivering an effective CDC model.

Mike’s background is in medical physics at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Royal Papworth Hospital before starting a medical imaging company in 2001. Now CTO, he starts our virtual chat by explaining the company’s solutions…

Our primary product, Bleepa, provides a digital clinical communication platform to allow investigations to be captured, associated with a specific patient journey and presented to clinicians in both primary and secondary care settings for review, discussion and planning onward management.

The pathway record will then be stored centrally using our patient-specific CareLocker cloud infrastructure to ensure its onward availability to all care settings.

Essentially it’s a way of presenting information that front line clinicians need to treat their patients. What this means is that the digital tools support the diagnostic processes and combine them with a conversation around the patient, in a recorded way. Clinicians can ask questions, contribute and make sure nothing is missed – built around digital workflows.

Can you take us through your pilot with Sussex ICS?

The team at Sussex ICS has a vision to revolutionise diagnostic pathways – and find, step-by-step, ways towards doing that. Our aim is the same, and together we’re thinking how can we do this differently, and review every step, so we can make this work. And to improve communication and information – asking where can we save people time and make use of that time more efficiently?

Interoperability with existing IT systems is key; each step to connect one part of the system to ‘talk to’ another has to provide a benefit. So, by starting small on one particular pathway, we are proving that it works, that there are benefits and then building out from that success.

For the pilot, we focused on the breathlessness pathway, to create an optimised diagnostic pathway. At the start we mapped out the process and developed our solutions to support the pathway. GPs refer into the pathway (managed using Bleepa); the patient then has the associated imaging, blood tests, and it’s all brought together in the platform. This information is then reviewed, through an asynchronous multi-disciplinary team meeting, where it’s easy to contribute and everything is brought together for a decision point. The focus is around the patient with all the information in one place.

Our strength has always been our focus on medical imaging, which is the harder part of the diagnostic workflow to implement, and then building the communication infrastructure and data sharing around that medical imaging.

By bringing the data together in one place for an episode or episodes of care for clinicians to view, annotate, discuss and share, it facilitates the right information in the right hands at the right time; in the patient pathway for a better, faster service for patients.

What’s gone well so far?

One of the main areas that has gone really well has been getting all stakeholders together and gathering the data that we can show around a patient in one place. It is still early days so we have more to implement and work through together but the approach is to start small, prove it works and scale up from there.

In practise a GP can refer into the pathway and easily see progress, communicate with other clinicians in the pathway and offer extra involvement, or not. This approach is not about adding to workloads but developing and supporting the workflow so that there can be a bi-directional conversation between the multi-disciplinary team (MDT) and the clinician to save time and improve care for patients.

A learning system 

The plan is to roll-out to other pathways and really continue to build… the centre of this is always the patient. What we’re trying to do is create an integrated care record which is patient-specific and pathway-specific, to facilitate communication between the referring clinician – in this case the GP – and a MDT.

Bleepa really sits at the heart of that, providing the information around the patient, to inform decision making and support the necessary communication and care planning, centrally.

The learning really comes down to focus; being specific to a pathway, as a way for an ICS to achieve that interoperability. Here as part of our pilot, it’s to answer the question – does implementing the digital infrastructure help and speed up that diagnostic pathway to help clear that backlog?

To find out more, visit the Bleepa website here.